I share content created by other people and do not exclusively self-promote.
Social media is the main marketing channel that I use for personal branding. I frequently share content written by my competitors, content created by friends and acquaintances, content that I find interesting (but written by strangers), and sometimes, content that isn’t at all interesting to myself, but that I feel may be of interest to my audience.
There are plenty of reasons why one should share work that is not their own. It’s an easy way to foster online relationships, create a valuable experience for your audience, improve your visibility (by increasing your appearance in people’s social network feeds), and create a very human-image of yourself. It’s an image of a person that is a reliable source of information and an expert in his field- he is sharing all relevant information, not just items he created. This is how one can continue to earn trust and credibility.
There are people out there that will argue against sharing the content that is not your own creation. The view here is that you are fighting for people’s attention (I can’t disagree with that) and when you finally capture it, it is being supplanted my other people’s work. Fortunately, there is middle-ground and you can promote yourself even when you aren’t authoring the content which you are sharing:
1. UTM Parameters
Using UTM parameters to promote yourself while sharing other people’s content is a relatively unknown tactic, and probably the coolest way I came to be offered a guest blogging opportunity.
Every time you share a blog post or webpage via social network (or any medium), you can append a UTM tracking parameter The basic idea is that when you share other people’s web content, you append a UTM tracking parameter to the URL like so:
And if that person happens to check his web analytics, mixed in with other traffic sources, he will see something along the lines of this:
A message is displayed, “Follow @fighto on Twitter and check out his blog at blog.paulnshapiro.com“.
To use this tactic, copy the tracking code portion (the part following ?utm_source=…) and append it to every URL you share. You can use Google’s URL Builder to get you started.
I was doing this for a month or so before I saw any attributable results from it. However, I eventually did, when I was contacted and asked to write a guest post:
Not long after I was contacted, I saw the release of a browser extension called Credited.io which essentially helps accomplish the same thing.
Credited.io is pretty easy to use. You need only input your accounts:
and then choose which social network you would like to share to from your browser bar:
It’s a good browser extension, but I prefer my method so that I can truly customize my message as I see fit. Credited.io requires that you promote your social account for the same network that you are sharing on. For example, if you are sharing on Google+, you are promoting your Google+ account. I also like directing people to my blog at the same time (see my example above).
2. Custom URL Shortners
Another easy way to promote yourself, no matter what your sharing, is to use a branded URL shortener. This way, every time you share content created by others, it has a little bit of your brand incorporated into it. Another nice thing about this is if you someone reshares or retweets your post, than that branded URL shortener comes along for that ride.
You can use services like Domainr or namegrep to find a good shortened domain name that you can register and set-up with Bitly or Yourls. I personally prefer Bitly because they integrate with EVERYTHING (Buffer, Tweetbot, Feedly, you name it).
In my case, I use a shortened version of my name. Paul Shapiro becomes the URL shortener pshapi.ro, which I use for everything.
On a side-note, the .ro TLD is a Romanian domain name which you can purchase for the price of like $50 for life straight from the Romanian government. No renewals or anything. It’s one of the best $50 I’ve ever spent.
I used to use a service called SharedBy.co (I think it used to run under a different name). It remains an awesome way to market yourself when you share other people’s content.
Every time you share a link, they add a little bar on the top of the content that says “Shared by [Insert Your Name Here]” along with a follow button, a link to your blog, or many other elements which the bar can be customized with.
More recent a similar service called Sniply has caught the attention of marketers. The Sniply bar is (by default) at the bottom of shared link (unless you pay). Sniply as a service, is a little bit better at allowing you customize the message on the bar per each shared link. Whereas, the SharedBy bar remains consistent across links. It also allows for call to action button and lead capture forms (you might as well grow that email list of yours).
Like with the case of the custom URL shorteners, an advantage of using these “sharing bars” is that if the links are reshared, your sniply or sharedby bars will be shared along with them.
Update: Linkis is another awesome sharing bar service that I just discovered. I like that it allows you to poll visitors as a feature set.
Every single one of these accounts can be combined into a single UBER TACTIC. You can append a UTM parameter, then add a Sniply bar at the botttom, and then encapsulate it in custom URL shortener. It’s a great way to proliferate your message and share other people’s content and build trust.
What do you think? Do you or your business shy away from sharing other people’s content? Do you frequently share other people’s content? How else might you promote yourself when you share other people’s content? Let me know in the comments below.